Caribbean musician Sherwin Gardner’s viral hit song surpasses 1 billion TikTok views

ROCKVILLE, Maryland (RNS) — As Caribbean musician and minister Sherwin Gardner readied for the new year, he decided to share a snippet of music about blessings he hoped others would receive in 2024.

That snippet turned into a viral sensation and led to the song “Find Me Here (Blessings Find Me),” which has reached American and international airwaves and a broad sweep of social media — to the tune of a billion views on TikTok.

“There’s this little statement I normally say in church,” he said in a Tuesday (March 12) interview during a tour of the Washington, D.C., area for media appearances and meetings. “After we finished singing and I pray, I would say, ‘Remember something good is about to happen for you.’”

The worship leader at Bahamas Harvest Church, a nondenominational evangelical congregation in Nassau, the Bahamas, Gardner had been mulling what music he would create next through his recording company.

He thought of these words: “Something good gonna happen in this year./And I am grateful that I made it here!/ Yesterday’s gone and a new day has appeared/And I am grateful that I made it here!”

A melody came to him, and he sent it off to a Kenyan arranger and finished the production of the snippet in his home studio on Christmas Day. After what he called a divine reminder on New Year’s Eve, Gardner said he posted the tiny tune on TikTok and Instagram at 11 p.m. Nassau time — and midnight in his native Trinidad and Tobago.

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The start of the song, a catchy rhythmic mixture of Afrobeats, reggae and dancehall genres, literally became an overnight sensation.

Gardner, 45, already had been keeping watch on his TikTok account, which had 999 followers, just shy of the 1,000 mark needed to post live recordings.

“The morning when I woke up, I had 20,000 followers and the views — started at 8 o’clock, it was 14,000; by 10 o’clock it was 50,000; by 12 (noon) it was over 100,000 views,” he said, recalling how he phoned a friend to say he thought the snippet was on the edge of going viral.

His friend informed him that had already happened: “He was like, ‘About to? Doctors, lawyers, gangsters and teachers posted your song on WhatsApp.’”

Caribbean musician and minister Sherwin Gardner in Washington, D.C. (RNS photo/Adelle M. Banks)

Caribbean musician and minister Sherwin Gardner in Washington, D.C. (RNS photo/Adelle M. Banks)

On New Year’s Day, Gardner returned to his studio to turn the snippet into a song and contacted Tyscot Records the next day. On Jan. 19, the song was released as part of a joint venture with Tyscot and his Trinidad-based Flow Masters Records. It is being distributed by ADA Worldwide, a company that is part of Warner Music Group.

As of mid-March, it’s been viewed more than 1,001,158,000 times on TikTok. As he surpasses the billion mark, he can be compared to rapper Eminem, whose song “Mockingbird” had 1.5 billion views a year ago, The Detroit News reported.

Bill Carpenter, Gardner’s publicist, said that, based on their research, Gardner could be the first Black gospel artist to achieve this landmark.

“This is now become or becoming the anthem for many people and their prayer throughout the whole world,” said Gardner, who has received social media shoutouts from music celebrities of various genres — from R&B singer Alicia Keys to gospel artist Yolanda Adams to rapper Eve.

Gardner said what he intended as an affirmation for others has become one for him as well, as he marks 40 years since he began singing and 35 years in ministry.

Around age 5, hymns were his music of choice. At the age of 6, he loved singing Michael Jackson’s “We Are the World,” recalling the pop star’s collaboration with artists of numerous genres in a melody he thought was akin to gospel.

As a young performer, he determined he was going to keep his music in the gospel realm despite opportunities to go in other directions.

“I even had offers from major labels when I was younger, and a lot of them wanted me to change my style, not say Jesus in the song, and for me, what would it profit me to gain the world and lose my soul?” he said, paraphrasing the Gospel of Matthew.

Sherwin Gardner performs in the Bahamas in 2022. (Courtesy photo)

Sherwin Gardner performs in the Bahamas in 2022. (Courtesy photo)

“So I pressed through those days, to be where I am and to be able to now spread the gospel at a different level.”

In the 1990s, he chose a genre that was not readily embraced.

“I started to sing gospel reggae in a time when gospel reggae was not accepted in the Caribbean,” he said. “So there’s a lot of closed doors. A lot of places we would go and people would say, ‘We don’t want this music in the church.’”

Eventually, views changed, he said, as critics saw young people being drawn to the music.

During his D.C.-area tour, Gardner visited the Warner Music/Blavatnik Center for Music Business at Howard University, where he spoke in an open forum with undergraduate and graduate students who peppered him with questions about how his song went viral and how to land a record deal.

Jasmine Young, director of the center that is part of the Warner Music conglomerate that includes the division distributing Gardner’s new song, called the tune’s trajectory a “miracle” for the Trinidadian, who has maintained his musical mission for so many years.

Sherwin Gardner, third from right, visits students and staff at Howard University in Washington, D.C., during a recent tour. (Photo courtesy Howard University)

Sherwin Gardner, third from right, visits students and staff at Howard University in Washington, D.C., during a recent tour. (Photo courtesy Howard University)

“I have worked with major artists across the gamut, and what impressed me the most about him was that he is intent on staying on his faith-based track,” said the 30-year veteran in the music industry — and a member of the Pentecostal church led by gospel singer Bishop Hezekiah Walker.

“He’s not trying to camouflage his music to make it seem mainstream or pop or anything else. He just wants you to know that it is faith-based and God is the center of it,” Young said.

Gardner easily ticks off the U.S. gospel musicians who have made an impression on him.

“My top five will always be Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, Byron Cage, Israel Houghton and then Shirley Caesar because, you know, your mother always played Shirley Caesar,” he said. “But Byron Cage was one of them who I would say shaped my style.”

While some reggae music tends to play “the same thing over and over,” he said he likes to include transitions and progressions to add shape to the sound of a song.

Before this year, his greatest success was a single, “Because of You,” a praise and worship song on his album “Greater,” which reached global markets in 2017.

“‘Because of You’ did pretty well in the U.S. market and throughout the Caribbean and the world,” Gardner said. “But nothing compares to this song and where this song is placed, where it’s taken me, the doors that it’s opening.”

Gardner, who sings lead and background vocals on his new song, is riding a wave of already-popular gospel music in both the U.S. and the Caribbean, as artists such as Houghton and Maverick City Music have performed in the island nations. Gardner and U.S. gospel artist Tye Tribbett performed in a concert in Tobago in September.

“We could do tours within just the Caribbean,” said Gardner, who also works as a promoter inviting artists to take part in concerts. “But also there’s a heavy presence of American music. So a lot of times we bring in a lot of gospel artists from America.”

Though he spoke the sentiment of his new song — “something good gonna happen” — as a worship leader intending to encourage others, he admitted it has been demonstrated in his personal life.

“It’s like a prayer,” Gardner said. “God already kind of answered that — within the first two weeks of the year.”

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